Reading strategies: what are they

Yüklə 36,52 Kb.
Pdf görüntüsü
ölçüsü36,52 Kb.
  1   2

Hossein Karami 
University of Tehran 

Reading is an integral part of academic affairs and it is equally 
important outside academic contexts. Apart from the essential 
linguistic requirements of the reading process (e.g. vocabulary and 
grammar), there are some so-called reading strategies that are 
attested to improve reading. Many articles and, indeed, whole books 
have been devoted to investigating reading. However, little research 
has been done to explore the nature of the reading strategies. This 
text attempts to provide a brief synthesis of the literature on the 
reading strategies.
In his introduction to Alderson (2000) on assessing reading, Lyle Bachman notes: 
"Reading through which we can access worlds of ideas and feelings, as well as the 
knowledge of ages and visions of the future, is at once the most extensively 
researched and the most enigmatic of the so-called language skills." The enigmatic 
nature of this "psycholinguistic guessing game" (Goodman, 1979) is even more 
evident when we are faced with reading in a foreign or second language. But, what 
is involved in reading that makes it so complicated and indeed difficult?
King (see references) believes that four factors are involved in reading 
comprehension: the reader, the text, the strategies, and the goal. He, then, goes on 
to emphasize that what actually makes the difference is the reading strategies. For 
king, the single most important factor in reading is the strategies learners utilize. 
But, what are reading strategies? We will have a brief look at the literature to 
answer this question. 
Wenden (1987 cited in Alderson 2000) notes that the strategies have been labeled 
differently in the literature and goes on to list the following: techniques, tactics, 
potentially conscious plans, consciously employed operations, learning skills, basic 
skills, functional skills, cognitive abilities, language processing strategies and 
problem-solving procedures.
A general distinction has often been made between strategies and skills. However, 
for some, they denote essentially the same processes.
Brown (2007 P.119) defines strategies as the ""specific methods of approaching a 
problem or task, modes of operation for achieving a particular end, planned 
designs for controlling and manipulating certain information." He differentiates 

between strategies and styles. Styles are “consistent and rather enduring tendencies 
and preferences within an individual". Styles are what distinguish you from others 
they are rather consistent and defy changes. Strategies on the other hand, vary 
within individuals from moment to moment as the specific problems and 
contexts change.
Chamot (2005 cited in Brown 2007) emphasizes the distinguishing feature of the 
strategies is consciousness. We utilize them rather consciously. Alderson (2000) 
takes the same position. 
These definitions are provided in the context of general learning. Pani defines 
reading strategies as “the mental operations involved when readers approach a text 
effectively to make sense of what they read… Good readers apply more strategies 
more frequently …and more effectively than poor readers.” (Pani 2004)
According to Brown (2007), the literature on second language acquisition has 
differentiated between two broad categories of strategies: learning strategies and 
communication strategies. Simply put, the former relates to input whereas the latter 
pertains to output and how we produce language either in speech or writing. As 
reading is considered to be a receptive skill, we are concerned with learning 
strategies here.
Among the learning strategies cited in the literature, the metacognitive and 
cognitive strategies are most relevant to reading. Metacognition is concerned with 
monitoring, or watching, and evaluating the success of the learning process. 
Cognitive strategies, on the other hand, relate to the specific contexts and learning 
Note that these strategies are part of our overall capacity in dealing with problems 
and tricky situations. This capacity is called strategic competence (see Bachman 
1990, Bachman and Palmer 1996, Canale and Swain 1980).
The impact of these strategies on reading is conceived to be of utmost importance 
in any act of reading. Remember that King (see above) emphasized that what 
differentiate between poor and good readers are reading strategies. Of course, he is 
not alone in this regard. Brown (2001), for example, points out that "reading 

comprehension is a matter of developing appropriate, efficient comprehension 
strategies" (ibid P. 306). He goes on to enumerate ten such strategies: 
1. Identify the purpose in reading. 
2. Use graphemic rules and patterns to aid in bottom-up reading. 
3. Use different silent reading techniques for relatively rapid reading. 
4. Skim the text for main ideas. 
5. Scan the text for specific information.
6. Use semantic mapping or clustering.
7. Guess when you aren't certain. 
8. Analyze vocabulary. 
9. Distinguish between literal and implied meanings. 
10. Capitalize on discourse markers to process relationships.
Interestingly enough, there have been some studies which have enumerated poor 
readers’ characteristics. Lau (2006), for example, cites the following in the 
1. They do not know how to construct the main ideas and macrostructure of the 
2. They are not familiar with the text structure and do not make use of the text 
structure to organize the main ideas,
3. They have little prior knowledge and do not know how to activate their 
knowledge to facilitate text comprehension,
4. They have difficulties in drawing inferences to achieve in-depth understanding 
of the texts,
5. They lack metacognitive ability, and are not aware of the problems that emerge 
during reading and do not know how to monitor their reading process. 
Empirical investigations have been done into the usefulness of strategy instruction 
on reading. Wright and Brown (2006) investigated the impact of explicit strategy 
instruction on reading comprehension of students of Spanish and/or French as a 
foreign language. The authors concluded that although the results indicated that the 
participants’ awareness of some strategies and their ability to reflect upon their 
reading did increase,” other strategies seemed harder to acquire. They also pointed 
out that some learners faced difficulties in acquiring some complex strategies.

The use of strategies after they have been learned has also been related to a variety 
of factors. For example, it is claimed that there is a close relationship between 
strategy use and motivation or the goal of reading. Generally, it is conveyed that 
the higher the motivation and the more important the goal, the more learners utilize 
strategies. He (2008) investigated the effect of the goal of reading and motivation 
on the learners’ utilization of strategies. The results indicated that the participants 
with stronger goals generally performed better than those with the same 
proficiency levels but weaker goals.
Based on this general review, we may be in a position to provide a synthesis 
definition of reading strategies. Reading strategies may be defined as the 
conscious, internally variable psychological techniques aimed at improving the 
effectiveness of or compensating for the breakdowns in reading comprehension, on 
specific reading tasks and in specific contexts.
The definition provided here highlights some aspects of reading strategies: 
1. They are conscious
2. They change from moment to moment 
3. They are regarded as tactics (for attacking a problem) 
4. Their use depends on the specific reading tasks
5. Context is a determinant factor 
6. They are aimed at improving performance
7. They make up for the breakdowns in comprehension 
The final point is that although the literature generally indicates usefulness of these 
strategies for efficient reading, other factors may also be involved in their 
application. As we saw above, goal of reading is one such factor. 

Yüklə 36,52 Kb.

Dostları ilə paylaş:
  1   2

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2024
rəhbərliyinə müraciət

    Ana səhifə